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May 24, 2021

Schiff Statement on Recent Attacks Against Press Freedoms

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and Co-Chair of the Congressional Freedom of the Press Caucus, issued the following statement on the detainment of Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich and jailing of Uzbek journalist Otabek Sattoriy:

“A free and independent press is essential for a free society, and the past week has provided additional and disturbing examples of the lengths to which some will go to silence individual journalists. On Sunday, Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich was subject to an outrageous action when the Belarusian regime forced his international flight to land in Minsk and detained him and his partner. This apparent state-sponsored hijacking of a commercial flight is unprecedented and unacceptable, and demonstrates why Mr. Protasevich’s coverage of Alexander Lukashenko's regime is so critical. This incident must be fully investigated and we must work with international partners for accountability and to secure Mr. Protasevich’s release.

“I am also concerned that Uzbek journalist Otabek Sattoriy has been sentenced to prison on trumped-up charges related to his work as a journalist. Reports that Mr. Sattoriy was targeted for his coverage of corruption and government abuse are chilling. Journalists fulfill an indispensable purpose in the societies they serve, and no reporter should ever face violence or prosecution for doing their job. I am calling on the State Department to engage directly with Uzbeki and Belarusian authorities to express their concerns and demand the immediate release of these two respected members of the press.”